Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Elitist hipsters? It can't be!

Much respect to the folks at Pitchfork, but despite consistently excellent music coverage, their own brand of elitism and snarkiness can get downright annoying.

Case in point: today's posting haranguing Rage Against the Machine for playing a show in the Twin Cities at the same time as the Republican National Convention.

After blaming Rage for the violence at last week's Lollapalooza (as opposed to the drunken, entitled frat-boys who are normally the culprits in such situations), P-fork contributor Dave Maher seems determined to preemptively blame the group for any violence that may come while the RNC is in town:

"So here's what we've got: a 'revolutionary' band whose most recent show at a mostly peaceful music festival incited the crowd to violence, causing many injuries to concertgoers in the process, playing a show in the same city and at the same time as a huge event celebrating the political party most opposed to that band's message. (Not to mention the fact that the last time Rage played a party convention, things didn't go so well.)"

Maher then ends with the incredibly condescending line: "Sounds like a great idea, guys! You couldn't just hand out copies of some socialist newspaper outside the RNC?"

Perhaps for obvious reasons, I take personal offense to that. Seriously.

Here is the reason why many are turned off by Pitchfork. Their coverage, though thorough, too often takes easy pot-shots at anyone standing up for something decent. Most of P-fork's readership is almost definitely to the left, against the war, find sexism and racism to be profoundly uncool, and probably think their own living standards should be improved.

And yet they see no contradiction in sniping against one of the best politically-minded acts of our age. Rage's decision to play in the Twin Cities while butting up against the RNC is of course a direct act of protest against everything the Republican Party stands for. They don't just see this as a great way to stir things up, they see it as their job to pick dates like this. Pitchfork, a site that views itself as being "alternative," is in a position to ask questions, delve into the group's reasoning, and examine the all-too-often ignored intersection between music and politics.

But who needs facts when you've got quick and easy labels? Who needs analysis when you've got scapegoating? And who needs journalistic integrity when you've got sarcasm? In moments like these, there really isn't that much separating this "alternative" site from establishment music journalism.

Maybe this is why hipsters get such a bad rap.

*****

2 comments:

Binh said...

They need to link your blog from SW from your reviews.

jesseray said...

Have you checked out the new Zach de la Rocha project, One Day as Lion? I'm just getting a copy now, but the single Wild International is most excellent.